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updated: 6/7/2012 12:25 PM

Taking a stand against 'Greater Glory'

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  • Andy Garcia plays Enrique Gorostieta in "For Greater Glory," a historical epic done badly.

    Andy Garcia plays Enrique Gorostieta in "For Greater Glory," a historical epic done badly.

  • Video: "I Heart Shakey" trailer


'Glory' a great film?

This just in from a reader about my ★ review of Dean Wright's bloated, repetitious, jingoistic, bombastic, platitudinous, manipulative Mexican historical epic "For Greater Glory" starring Andy Garcia.

Dann: Haven't seen the movie yet, but two of my friends did. I share their review: The movie "For Greater Glory" was worth every penny. Great acting and story!!!

Guess you have to be a Catholic to understand what persecution and dying for one's religion is all about. -- Arlene Sawicki

Arlene: Do you seriously think one has to be Catholic to "understand what persecution and dying for one's religion is all about"?

St. Stephen may have been the first reported Christian martyr, but I think Jews might know something about dying for one's religion.

How about Rabbi Akiva, arrested for teaching Torah in public? The Talmud tells how he screamed the Shema as Roman soldiers tortured him to death.

Or how about those pesky Protestants? In 1538, college-educated theologian John Lambert shouted, "None but Christ!" as Catholic leaders burned him at the stake for his "heretical" beliefs.

Do you honestly think Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims and followers of other faiths know nothing about religious persecution and they can't relate to the characters in "For Greater Glory"?

We'll have to agree to disagree on that point, Arlene.

Actually, your friends do agree with me that "For Greater Glory" had a great story to tell. I just couldn't believe a first-time director could screw it up so badly.

However, if your friends really, truly believe that the stilted acting in this botched drama was "great" (with a singular nod to Bruce Greenwood's solid performance as the U.S. ambassador), I'll make you this bet:

If any actor from the movie gets nominated for Oscars, Golden Globes, or even Chicago Film Critics Awards, I will buy tickets for you and your two friends to a movie of your choice. (Don't put on your movie shoes yet; you won't collect.)

A 'Shakey' premiere

The locally shot 3-D feature "I Heart Shakey" will open in theaters and OnDemand June 29. But it's having a blowout world premiere party next Wednesday at the Hollywood Palms in Naperville.

(Sorry, the public's not invited to the screening, but everyone can be there for the red carpet festivities 5 to 6 p.m. to meet the cast members and be entertained live by Purple Apple.)

The story involves three members of a family who move from a small town to Chicago. There, they must give up their family dog because he wreaks havoc in their new apartment building. The movie's PR says, "It is a simple heartwarming story geared toward kids that focuses on the importance of loyalty."

Man, the production is stuffed with suburban talent, too.

Local cast talent includes Oak Park's Janet Ulrich Brooks as the apartment owner, and La Grange's Max Zuppa as the school bully Sergei Demonic, plus Grayslake's Heidi Johanningmeier, Cary's Madigan Baker and Glenview's Tom Cloud.

Wheaton's Claire Simon did the casting. Lombard's Andy Bruns served as production designer, Medinah's Erica Lynn Schmeck was the production manager, Naperville's Alice Piszczek got to be the assistant dog trainer, Wheaton's Jennifer Lee Johnson served as hair stylist and makeup artist, St. Charles' Vincent V. Shade was the first assistant director.

Arlington Heights' Mark Davis worked in the digital imaging and camera departments, Carol Stream's Katherine (Katie) Patenaude was both the assistant casting director and art department production assistant.

"I Heart Shakey" stars Steve Lemme, Steve Guttenberg, Beverly D'Angelo, Rylie Behr and Ebony (a rescue dog) along with Chicago comedy talents Andy St. Clair and Greg Holloman.

The husband/wife production team of Kevin and Deanna Cooper actually left Hollywood to build a new production company in Chicago. "Shakey" is its first film. You can view the theatrical trailer on YouTube.

Yes, there's a food fight.

'The Kid With the Bike'

The After Hours Film Society presents "The Kid With a Bike" by French filmmakers Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne at 7:30 p.m. Monday at the Tivoli Theater, 5021 Highland Ave., Downers Grove. Tickets cost $9 ($5 for members). It won the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival. A young boy searches for his bicycle, a symbol of his relationship with his disappearing father. Go to

Critic's notebook

• It's a weekend of classics, camp and trash as the Portage Theater, 4050 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago, presents two days of mostly guilty pleasures, starting with "Ghidorah: The Three-Headed Monster," "Gorgo," "Howard the Duck," "Jaws," "An American Werewolf in London" and "Night of the Living Dead" running consecutively on Saturday. Admission costs $5.

Sunday, we'll get "Masters of the Universe," "Krull" (krull me now!) and "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken." Go to for tickets.

• "Classic Movie Mondays" continues through Aug. 27 at the Paramount Theatre, 23 E. Galena Blvd., Aurora. Admission costs a whopping 80 cents!

Rob Reiner's "The Princess Bride" shows at 7 p.m. this Monday, followed by "West Side Story" June 18 and "The Goonies" June 25. For the complete schedule, go to Just remember that first Mondays are horror, second Mondays are comedies, third Mondays are romance and fourth Mondays are adventure.

• If you prefer art house and foreign fare, check out Aurora's Copley Theater at 8 E. Galena Boulevard, across the street from the Paramount, every second Tuesday.

The French suspense thriller "Tell No One" will be shown Tuesday at 6:45 p.m. followed by "Withnail & I" July 10, "Kes" Aug. 14 and "Gomorrah" Sept. 11. $8 admission. Presented in partnership with Aurora's film society, City Cineastes.

• Oscar-winning director and actor Kevin Costner comes to the Arcada Theatre, 105 E. Main St., St. Charles, on July 14. Not in a movie, but as lead vocalist for "Kevin Costner & Modern West." Tickets start at $69. Go to

Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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